Rory Gallagher - Kickback City
Album Review

Rory Gallagher – Kickback City

The Kickback City box set is a lovely creative collaboration that fuses music, storytelling and graphic art around the theme of crime noir. It is a great package, built around a hardback book containing two CDs of music from the brilliant Irish blues guitarist Rory Gallagher and a brand new Ian Rankin story in two formats: a written version beautifully illustrated by graphic artist Timothy Truman and an entertaining spoken version by actor Aidan Quinn.

The inspiration for the project was Rory Gallagher’s love of vintage detective stories from the likes of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. The songs on the two CDs, one of studio recordings and one of live music from a previously unreleased show recorded at the Cork Opera House, all have a crime theme. The project was pulled together by Rory’s brother Donal Gallagher, who approached Ian Rankin, writer of the Rebus novels, and as a fan of Rory’s music he was more than glad to help. Rankin has contributed a brand new novella, written in fifties style and containing many references to Gallagher’s songs.

The first CD contains some wonderful remastered studio takes. All of these have been previously released, so there are no surprises here. But they do provide a musical treat for Gallagher’s fans and a good introduction to his work for those perhaps too young to have known him at his peak. While the emphasis is on his fluid and soulful guitar work, Gallagher’s gritty vocals shouldn’t be overlooked. Irish rock meets Mississippi blues and the end result is in places stunning.

Fast paced tracks like The Devil Made Me Do It, Kid Gloves and Big Guns show Gallagher at his exciting best, while Continental Op’s lively guitar hook and fine solo also stand out. The softer Slumming Angel is a great blues song and Sinner Boy shows a tender side to the legendary guitarist. The closing acoustic track Seven Days has a real menace to its fine vocal deliver.

The second CD sees Gallagher doing what he did best: playing live music. His brilliant guitar work is at times incendiary, at others sweet and soulful, but the passion always shines through. The instrumental sections amongst the seven tracks, particularly where the guitar and harmonica play off each other are especially good. I Ain’t No Saint and Messin’ With The Kid stand out, but in fact all seven tracks are very good.

Kickback City is a fine project using multiple media to create something special. The music is a fitting tribute to a guitar great, a man cited as a musical influence by many current guitar heroes since his untimely death back in 1995. And Ian Rankin’s story is pretty damned good too. As a crossover work this well packaged set will appeal to music fans and thriller readers alike. It would make a great present.

Venue: Kickback City
Support Band: Sony

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